Google for Entrepreneurs Day in Singapore 2014

As part of the third year running Google for Entrepreneurs Week, Google in-conjunction with NUS Enterprise organised a Google for Entrepreneur Day event on 17 October. This year’s event was held at Blk71, a vibrant ecosystem of Singapore-based startups, and saw Adam Koch and Tony Chan, developer advocates sharing the latest on Android, covering the latest Android updates, Material Design, Cloud Platform and Android Wear.

On the new Nexus devices, we all know by now that the Nexus 6 has received flak for the high pricing and the larger than most dimensions. Adam did share a little on Google’s rationale behind the Nexus device, which was to serve as a reference for the ecosystem as they develop their Android system release. The Nexus 6 is the first Nexus device that encroached to the phablet territory which undoubtedly has grown popular over the years. Android One is the Google’s latest budget phone but may not be coming to Singapore anytime soon. It is currently selling in India, and the next target markets would be nearby southeast Asia countries soon, such as Indonesia and Philippines. As part of Google’s direct phone lineup, you would be able to get fast software updates to the latest android version.

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Android Lollipop should see underlying battery improvements through Project Volta but developers also get some help with features such as JobScheduler. It helps developers with an API to aggregrate jobs and wakes up the phone when it’s ready, instead of multiple polling calls. In terms of software for developers, the new Android Studio promises enhancements that are both cosmetic, analytical and performance based. Eclipse isn’t the friendliest tool for development. Android Studio is in beta, but in Google-speak, that means ready for launch. Android Studio is a new Android development environment based on IntelliJ IDEA, and would replace the existing Eclipse ADT. I am still stuck on Eclipse and would explore the move to Android Studio soon.

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The Android TV is also Google’s latest attempt back towards the living room space, a combination of the previous Nexus Q and the Chromecast. They highlighted an important point though, the entire user experience need to be redesigned for the TV, to offer a lean back experience, instead of the current Tablet UI that is typical of the Android media box. Would be interesting to see when Google TV arrives later next month and whether the APKs can be ported out.

Material design is about the convergence of Project Kennedy and Holo for Google. I am glad they moved away from Holo, the blue / black combo looks too depressing. Material is the cross platform unification of Google’s application design, based on the concept of tangible surfaces. As it is, a large number of Android Lollipop app designs have been covered indepth by AndroidPolice, and most of them are looking great. Backwards compatibility was shared and while some of the design notions would be workable in Jellybean, KitKat, certain animations and design cues such as shadows would only be available on Lollipop.

More targeted at Entrepreneurs, Google also shared their Google Cloud Platform, which enables developers to build, test and deploy applications on Google’s scalable and reliable infrastructure. They have varied offerings such as a full virtual computing instance on their Compute Engine, similar to what Amazon offers on their AWS, or an App Engine, where you only deploy the applications, and need not worry about the server configuration.

By the way, App Engine is free for use, as long as you don’t exceed certain usage quota, and people have used it to deploy stuff such as Proxy Engine to bypass regulatory checks using Google servers. Check out the Mirrorrr project that runs on App Engine. Google App Engine app that Mirrors the content of URLs you supply. Rewrites the fetched page to mirror all content, including images, Flash, Javascript, CSS, and even favicons. You stay within the cache when you follow links. Useful for pulling load off of slashdotted servers. Also can be used to anonymize web access – as everything is loaded through Google, no direct access to the other party content.

Google Cloud Platform is competing directly with Amazon AWS, which is undoubtedly more popular, but latest price cuts on Google Cloud Platform has helped make it rather compelling to switch. In addition, for attendees to the Google’s Developer Day, Google gave away the promotion code for free $500 in credit to get started building. Useful for Entrepreneurs! That can be pretty handy but do take note, credits expire after three months.

The last bit on Android Wear was rather meh, nothing new and just a basic introductory session. Overall, a decent information session but nothing breakthrough. Oh, by the way, they gave away free t-shirt at the event – another to the pile of free t-shirts, material is not too bad though.

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Sean

Sean is a tech geek and star wars fan. He loves playing with new gadgets, writing little code snippets in Python, JS, and dabbling with Android programming from time to time, while keeping a lookout for the next biggest happening in the world of tech!

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